View Full Version : Envelope falling from the sky

06-14-2006, 10:44 AM
Hi there fellow wavers.
Some friends are about to start working on a short film (on DV). Today the director asked me if I could animate an envelope (mail) falling from the sky down to the ground. The animation will be composited on top of the video and is naturally supposed to look realistic. (Do you guys remember the feather intro sequence of Forrest Gump?)
The scene will probably be shot from a crane, which means that the motion will hopefully be quite fluid.

I pretty much suck on animation in Lightwave, but I’ve said I’d give it a try anyway. Which approach would you recommend? Should I try to hand-animate everything or could this possibly be a task for Lightwave’s dynamics?

I also want to add that the scene hasn’t yet been shot, so I still have a chance to affect the outcome of the footage.

Any kind of input would be greatly appreciated.

06-14-2006, 03:35 PM
You can do it with HardFX and if you want the envelope to be kind of soft and wrinkle it self in the air you can also apply clothFX to it. Then if you want to tweak the outcome you can use editFX. Otherwise do it by hand. I think if you try to use as few keyframes as possible you can make it beliveable with keyframe animation and have full control over the motion.
I hope it helped.

06-15-2006, 09:48 AM
Tjabba Ztreem. Thanks a lot.

I think I'll give the HardFX/clothFX combo a shot.
Though I must say, I'm a bit worried that I might lose the control over the object.

Note to self: Hmmm... Maybe the new "animation path wind effector" capabilities (in 9) could do the trick.

06-15-2006, 01:37 PM
Hi there,

if you go here


and check out the "confetti" animation (there is a movie and the content) at the bottom of the page it should help you out quite a lot. 3 cheers for celshader....



06-15-2006, 03:22 PM
If it's one envelope, hand animate it, it'll be quicker in the long run. If it's lot of envelopes, clothfx is a better way to go. I've done bank notes with it. You'd want to do it as polygon strips, and then use metalink to apply the motion to the envelopes.

06-15-2006, 04:07 PM
The scene will probably be shot from a crane

All of the above, + , to get a feel for it all...

Build yourself a crane object (couple of parented nulls should do it) then parent your camera to the end. Build some very basic buildings (7 poly's etc)or scenery (whatever the final shot requires) then drop in some sky.

From there play till your hearts content with the envelope until you find something you like. Show the Director and work from there.

ps - even from crane's or glide/steady cams there still can be some movement, so your final shots may need matchmoving.

Have fun.

06-16-2006, 03:08 AM
A big thanks to all of you. You guys are the best!

The scene will consist of one envelope only.

@ Munky: That confetti animation looks really sweet. I'll check out how the scene is done when I get home. (I don't have Lightwave at work)

@ Dodgy: Thanks. I think I'll check out the dynamics first, though. (I'm lazy and would rather have the computer do the work for me :)) But if I lose too much control or if I don't like the outcome, I'll animate it by hand.

@ T-Light: Interesting suggestion. I'm glad you mentioned it. I hadn't even thought about the camera motion. Maybe it's time to put that ol' SynthEyes license to work.

06-16-2006, 04:09 AM
Another vote for hand-keying here.

06-16-2006, 01:34 PM
hand-key + SynthEyes is what i would do. Make sure to go over the camera movement with your director/cinematographer to enseure that SynthEyes will be able to track the motion.

on a side note, be sure to match the lighting too.

06-17-2006, 11:18 AM
I would also hand animate it. Its simple enough to generate a basic motion path. You can also add in some displacement maps set to world coords as well.
I can guarentee you that the feather in Forest Gump wasnt simply a matter of applying dynamics to an object. When you apply dynamics you lose control over something. It now becomes a hit or miss operation to sort of get something, mabye. Direct control will give you what you want but it does take work and potentially less work then tweaking settings and hoping for the best. :)

06-17-2006, 11:20 AM
but it does take work

I think it's safe to say without fear of contradiction that if you don't want to work hard, animation just is not for you.

Not you personally of course, Larry, but in general.

06-17-2006, 11:26 AM
I understand. I find that fiddling with settings to get something to look right can sometimes take far longer then just animating it by hand and then sweetening the result with dynamics, displacement maps etc. :)

06-17-2006, 11:29 AM
I also find I feel a lot more fulfilled when I've hand-animated something. Besting the rip-tides of impenetrable terms in one's physics simulator is one thing, watching something happen that's all the product of one's own observations of the world and what's in it is a far purer experience.

I'm an incurable romantic.

This world is gonna eat me alive.